Team Tsarnaev: Passing the Baton

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”
1 Corinthians 9:24

As I write this, the baton is being passed. One team of defense lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is about to be replaced by another. Some are already expressing elation.

I say: wait and see, for already, a couple things disturb me.

The following fact has been stated in two separate articles announcing the changing of the defensive guard in the Boston Marathon bombing case:

“Only one of his lawyers, Judy Clarke, will stay on the case for a short transition period.”

A relay race is a team effort wherein a baton is passed among members as each runs a prescribed length of the course. Ultimately the final member carries the baton over the finish line, bringing victory to the entire team. I don’t see Judy Clarke’s appointment as attorney-chosen-to-pass-the-baton in a positive light.

Thanks to outspoken Tsarnaev family members, it is now a well-known fact that U.S. government officials put intense pressure on Tsarnaev defense team numero uno not to “resist a conviction.” That is shameful, not to mention criminal.

Team Clarke complied, caving in to these threats to the point that there was no actual defense of Dzhokhar at his first trial. When Clarke spoke during critical moments in the trial, she might as well have been sitting at the prosecution’s table. After all, she already seemed to be in bed with them.

Therefore, if she has a baton to pass to the next defense team, my guess is it will be one of fear and caution. I can easily see her earnestly relaying the threats that worked so well to silence her own best efforts.

If I, as the attorney reaching for said baton was told, at the moment of hand-off to be careful, be afraid, be sure not to do anything to jeopardize the conviction, I would respond with an immediate and heartfelt “f___ that.

For those of you who believe the fantasy that Christians don’t swear, plug in the word “forget.” It fits. For those of you in reality, you know what would have been my more likely response. (Christians swear – we just try, and hopefully succeed, in doing so a lot less of the time than the world does. And afterward, we hopefully feel bad about it and repent. I’m just being honest.)

So I find it interesting that the one attorney who did the most damage in the case, the attorney who said “It was him” in opening statements and even more of the same in closing, is now the one staying on to, in the words of one article I read, “manage the transition period.”

Is that what you call it now?

The new attorneys need to take the boxes of documents off her hands and show her the door, in my humble opinion. Increasing their life insurance policies wouldn’t be a bad idea either, from what we have read.

What are the Rules, Anyway…

Here’s the other thing bothering me: The new attorneys are from Colorado (Gail Johnson) and New York (David Patton). Ok, so Colorado I get, the client is close by, saving money on travel to meet with him. But New York? What the Frick? (Yes, pun intended… ) Is that where they expect the next trial to be held when it is finally moved or something?

Attorney John Remington Graham, a member in good standing of the bar of the Minnesota Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court, filed a pro se motion on behalf of Maret Tsarnaeva, aunt of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Though the affidavit has been made part of the formal record of the case thus allowing it to be public record, this Minnesota attorney could not find a single attorney in the state of Massachusetts who would sponsor his appearance before the Federal District Court in Boston.

I have stated plainly and without shame on this blog that I am not an attorney. I don’t often know how things work in a strictly legal sense. But I do have “common” sense. So here is my common sense question: If John Remington Graham could not assist Maret Tsarnaeva in this case to the full extent he was prepared to simply because he was not a Massachusetts attorney, how is it that now, to save money, the government is willing to allow a New York and a Colorado attorney to take the reigns?

I think the overriding reason John Remington Graham could not find a single attorney to sponsor him was because he actually wanted to fight this case. He saw, based on the evidence, that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is not guilty of bombing the Boston Marathon.

Are they making up the rules of eligibility for attorney involvement as they go?

Don’t get me wrong: I am glad to see Judy Clarke (especially) out of the picture. A Boston Globe article said this: “An appeal of a criminal conviction is typical in federal court, and legal specialists say it is routine for new lawyers to take over a death penalty case during the appeals process.

‘You want some new eyes, new blood, and that’s what’s happening here’ said George Kendall, a New York lawyer who has handled hundreds of death penalty cases, including for the American Civil Liberties Union.”

However new and fresh the eyes of David Patton and Gail Johnson, their first order of business may be to resist the message to tread lightly that I feel will most certainly be brought by Judy Clarke.

At this point, we know nothing about the character, the integrity, the level of courage and inner strength that make up the persons of David Patton and Gail Johnson. I like that Mr. Patton and King David, who slew Goliath, share the same first name.

However, if Dzhokhar is to have a real defense this second go-round, not only Mr. Patton but every attorney now involved in this case will need to share a lot more than a name with the giant killer.

2 thoughts on “Team Tsarnaev: Passing the Baton”

  1. we don’t know what the new lawyers will be like, but they can’t be any worse than the last ones, that’s for sure. They are younger and maybe not quite as intimidated by prosecutors, FBI and judges. I have read up on both new lawyers and they seem genuinely caring and compassionate to their clients. It provides hope for now, The fact that judy will be the last to leave is troublesome, but the new lawyers don’t seem like the type to cave to the possible instructions, fears and cautionary tales of judy. They are their own people. Let’s be happy for now.

  2. You have great points Lynn. I’m personally elated we won’t be hearing any more negative stuff coming from Clarke’s mouth nor ‘The Nightmare Team’ but I’m actually excited what this new team will bring to the table. I’m hoping truth and cold hard facts to the appellate court….not toying with their defendant life like ‘the dream team’ did. Great writing as always!

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